Groningen is very popular amongst international students, who regularly flock to this lively and bustling city. Needless to say, this makes this Dutch city so much fun and interesting. Aside from lovely cafés, restaurants, canals, and monumental buildings, you will find many tourist attractions here. If you’re for a treat, here are the best things to do in Groningen for a day:
Begin with the Best Breakfast
Start your day by feeling good with breakfast at Feel Good. There are so many Groningen restaurants you can choose from, but this cafe should be on the top of your list.
Feel Good serves great food from the freshest and locally grown products. Located on Oude Kijk in ‘t Jatstraat 29, this lovely café is well-known for its vegan dishes. It is open seven days a week.
Another breakfast place option is Wadapartja. It is known for serving unique and tasty flavour combinations. This food joint is open every day, serving meat, vegan, and vegetarian meals.
Groningen City Guide
Like most Dutch cities, Groningen is so unique and picturesque that a simple stroll around town becomes quite an experience. Groningen’s Old Town District is perfect for a walking tour or bike ride.
Old Town Groningen boasts of its old pathways and squares, the early 19th-century Neoclassical Town Hall (Stadhuis) in the Grote Markt, and the magnificent Renaissance Gold Office (Goudkantoor) built in 1635.
Walk around and see the Neo-Renaissance Provinciehuis, which is the seat of the provincial government. Head on over to the Prinsenhof, a former 15th-century monastery with its lovely 17th-century gardens.
Visit the Huis Cardinaal with its superb Renaissance façade from 1559, which is very popular for housing the medallions of Alexander the Great, King David, and Charlemagne on the gable.
Don’t get off your bike yet, and make your way to the covered Fish Market (Vismarkt), which has been in existence since 1821. It is open Wednesday through Saturday.
Come see the Groningen Museum, one of the most popular landmarks in the city. As one of the most technologically advanced art galleries in the Netherlands, Groningen Museum is nestled in a beautiful post-modern building on the banks of the Verbindingskanaal. It hosts several visiting exhibits all year round.
Come and see a famous collection of Groningen silver, archaeological finds, portraits, regional arts and crafts, as well as Chinese and Japanese porcelain and paintings, and works by the Groningen-born painters Jozef Israëls and Hendrik Willem Message.
Another museum of interest is the Northern Shipping Museum (Noordelijk Scheepvaartmuseum) on Brugstraat 24, housed in two historic buildings known as Gotisch Huis and Canterhuis. Here you will get a unique glimpse into Groningen’s rich maritime history by seeing ship models, paintings, photos, parts of old ships, and navigational instruments.
This museum opened in the 1930s and featured the history of inland and coastal shipping and fishing since the time of the Roman Empire.
In the afternoon, take a ride 38 kilometers northwest of Groningen on the North Sea coast to visit Lauwersmeer National Park (Nationaal Park Lauwersmeer), one of the country’s most popular recreational and conservation areas.
Walk on the park’s popular 50-kilometre paths for walkers. There are also several bike trails, including a 45-kilometer path that travels through many scenic areas and picturesque villages. The area is also enjoyed by bird-watchers.
Lauwersmeer National Park will allow you to sail, canoe, and try kitesurfing if you love water sports.
Another option to see in the afternoon is the Fortified Village of Bourtange, just 61 kilometres east of Groningen, near the German border. Built in 1593 and used as a fort until 1851, the entire Bourtange village resembles a huge star when viewed from above. A series of moats and waterways mark the fortified outline.
Here, you can visit an open-air museum, see a collection of cannons, and participate in special events such as markets and fairs.
A Pair of Klomps
Finally, do not leave the city without trying a pair of clogs at the well-known International Wooden Shoe Museum Eelde. The Netherlands is known for its iconic wooden shoes or clogs (klomp in Dutch). Come to this museum to better appreciate the local culture.
International Wooden Shoe Museum Eelde has the world’s largest collection of wooden shoes, including ones from France and Germany.
Fun Festivals and Events
Later in the day, you could catch a variety of fun city events and festivals. Groningen is popular for its lively arts and cultural scene, attracting students, tourists, and everyone looking for fun. Much of what’s going on happens in and around the City Theater (Stadsschouwburg) in the Turfsingel and the concert venues, such as Martini Plaza.
Some of the events you could encounter in the city are modern theatrical productions, the annual Roald Dahl Festival between Christmas and New Year, the popular WinterWelVaart in the port area, and musical concerts of all genres.
If you are here in January, catch the Eurosonic Festival, a huge music event attracting more than 300 bands from across the continent.
In August, watch for the annual Noorderzon Festival in the Noorderplantsoen, the city’s main public park. You could end up dancing and enjoying music with up to 150,000 visitors. This 11-day festival includes theatrical, dance, and music performances and literary events and visual arts presentations.
Where to stay in Groningen
After a day of fun and exciting sightseeing, sit back and relax in any of these Groningen hotels.
Prinsenhof is nestled in a historic building near the city’s top-rated tourist attractions. You can relax in a cosy room with elegant décor, overlooking Martini Tower.
On the other hand, NH Groningen Hotel de Ville offers several rooms with balconies. Finally, Hotel Corps de Garde is another historic hotel from the 1600s, with oversized bathtubs and classy décor.
When looking for a more affordable place, check out the City Hotel Groningen, a 3-star hotel with a private sauna, fitness centre, and secure parking garage.
When on a budget, The Student Hotel Groningen is perfect. It has budget-friendly rates with a fun and funky design, lovely breakfast, laundry facilities and ping pong, and serving lovely breakfast.
Do you want to know more about the cities and villages in the Netherlands? Browse our other topics here at Ask the Dutch Guy!